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Jon Gallagher scored just seven minutes into his first start for Austin FC. (Major League Soccer/Twitter)

With his voice still hoarse from the night's loss, Austin FC head coach Josh Wolff looked haggard as he explained the series of events that led to a 2-1 loss to his former club, Sporting Kansas City.

Wolff said that Captain Alex Ring's red card in the second half cost the match as they struggled to keep together without the glue of the team in the final 25 minutes of play.


"It took red to change... the whole dynamic of the game," Wolff said.

For the first 66 minutes of play, the club held onto a 1-0 white-knuckle lead after Jon Gallagher scored his first goal for the Verde and Black seven minutes after his first start for the team.

Gallagher's start for Austin marked the first time a striker scored for the new team as he replaced Danny Hoesen as the club's starter.

Austin FC were the new kids on the block against establishment team Kansas City, but they managed to control the pace of the match for much of the first half.

Wolff said the club effectively found Kansas City's weak spots in the first half of play.

"It was really clear that it was working exactly how we planned on it," Wolff said. "And we gave them a lot of problems."

Gianluco Busio, Kansas City's 18-year-old midfielder, very nearly tied it up several times as longtime KC defender Graham Zusi fed balls up to goal, but Austin FC kept that clean sheet alive thanks to the efforts of goalkeeper Brad Stuver. Stuver saved the day with a two-handed block in the 32nd minute and kept it going as he ended the match with several saves to his credit.

Thanks partially to luck and partially to Kansas City's inability to finish, the Verde and Black went into the half with no goals given up. They seemed to find their tempo and were functioning like a well-oiled machine until the 67 minute, when Ring left the pitch with a deadly second yellow card. Ring, the glue of the club, would be out for the rest of the game.

Zusi, who was drafted with Austin FC's Matt Besler in 2009 and even lived in the Besler family home for their rookie season, consistently brought the ball up into threatening territory, and the left side suffered from a constant barrage of attacks at the hands of KC.

With ten men on the pitch, Wolff took the defensive route as he subbed in defender Julio Cascante for Gallagher. The move proved ineffective; Austin FC lost all offensive footing they had as they worked to keep Stuver protected at goal, but eventually the wall fell down as KC's Ilie Sanchez capitalized on the club's 11th corner kick to tie the match.

Just as regulation time ended, it was clearly Kansas City's match when the deciding goal flew past Stuver.

Ring's uncharacteristically reckless behavior and Wolff's decision to pump the brakes too soon ultimately cost Austin FC the match, and they fell to eighth in the Western Conference.

Wolff said the team hadn't trained to play with 10, but he didn't excuse the decisions that led to the loss.

"There's no excuses," Wolff said. "We haven't worked on playing with 10 men, we're in our infancy, and I'm sure going forward, we will."

Now, the club faces a new challenge heading into next week's match vs. LA Galaxy. Ring will still be out due to the two yellow cards, and the fledgling club will need to learn from a devastating half that saw the team's depth tested for the first time.

A new lineup may need to be drawn, but Wolff said the club will keep their characteristic intensity as they head to their fifth match on the road.

"We go on the road and we play the way we play, and we're going to try to push the tempo," Wolff said. "I don't think that's changing."

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